Psychological Effects of a Physical Disability

Why is it important to college students?

Many athletes are prone to physical injuries, which can lead to a decrease in self esteem. Disabilities, however temporary, can have an increased affect on the way the athlete views themselves. Having to use a physical aid, such as a crutch, makes it obvious to others that the person is "not normal." Not only does dealing with a disability have an effect on the brain, but it is also strenuous on the body. When an athlete is unable to use a body part normally, the rest of the body has to make up for the slack. This can result in even more injuries, because the body is overcompensating for the wounded area. College students can be prone to these injuries that hinder their ability to participate in athletics for many reasons. Overlooking these injuries can lead to permanent damage that can show up later in the athlete's life, and affect their mobile ability. In addition, college students with physical disabilities can find themselves being negative toward their appearances, decreasing their self-esteem. Being physically impaired is not easy, whether it is temporary or permanent. It gives an individual a false sense of inability to succeed, and hinders their self image (Patel).

Concepts
According to Miller and Sammons at Bradley University, a disability is defined as "the inability to perform one or more major life activities because of impairment" (Disability). Not only does having a disability have an effect on the body, but it has an effect on the psychological side as well (Result). Men especially feel an effect on their self image, because having to depend on a wheelchair, crutches, or just being hindered from participating in an activity can cause them to feel less masculine. In women, some already feeling like a lower status because of sexism, feel that they don't display a "feminine beauty," and feel unattractive (Disability). Physical disabilities can deprive a person of success, as well as decrease their self-esteem. Having an obvious impairment can be detrimental to the individual's view of themselves, because they are not able to carry out the same activities as others (Result). In the case of an athlete having a permanent physical disability that requires special attention or modifications to a sport, sports must be adapted to fit their needs (Munyi). Adapted sports modify their rules to aid people with physical impairments. This can include an integrated or segregated setting among "normal" athletes. Having integrated games promotes acceptance for people with disabilities, as well as helping athletes without disabilities collaborate and embrace the opportunity to interact normally with people unlike them (Patel).

Having a physical disability as an athlete can be detrimental to not only their body image, but their personal psychology as well, even if it is only a temporary injury. Being injured leaves a gap in the athlete's daily routine, making it more difficult to have a structured schedule, and can affect their social encounters with others. Athletes are used to being around their teammates for a certain period of time during any given week, especially during college when athletics take up a large portion of the day. Once that social time is taken out of the schedule, the athlete can begin to feel isolated. This could lead the individual to feeling unrecognized and less confident around others, since the usual social aspect of the athlete's life is altered. For athletes, particularly those at the collegiate level, there have been seven identified steps for coping with an injury. These are the steps according to Mimi Winsberg (Winsberg):
1. Grieve: Time for a little bit of self-pity, allowing the individual to be sad.
2. Acceptance: Accepting the injury/disability.
3. Resetting Goals: Creating new benchmarks for recovery.
4. Maintaining a Routine: Continuing to engage in physical fitness; "mentally rehearsing" the movement to maintain muscle memory.
5. Take Responsibility: Control the healing process, and remain active during rehabilitation.
6. Go Slow to Go Fast: Being patient in the recovery process will aid the body in getting healthy fast.
6. Seek Support: getting support from friends, family, and the team can maintain mental health, and prevent symptoms of depression.

How to move it forward

Helping people with physical disabilities can improve the lives of both the athletes with disabilities, and able-bodied athletes. Helping the athletes with disabilities can help them develop independence, and increase and improve their self-confidence, whether their disability is permanent or temporary. This also allows the athlete to be treated like any normal athlete. Being able to participate and compete with able-bodied athletes allows all abilities to make accommodations to each other, and learn how to deal with problems. Having similar expectations about people with and without disabilities challenges athletes to rise to expectation of coaches and audiences. This also promotes support on an integrated team, building the bond between teammates (Moffett).

Work Cited:


Disability & Body Image. (n.d.). //Bradley University//. Retrieved November 20, 2013, from http://www.bradley.edu/sites/bodyproject/disability/body/

Moffett, A. (n.d.). Tips for Including Athletes with Disabilities. //Association for Applied Sport Psychology://. Retrieved November 28, 2013, from http://www.appliedsportpsych.org/resource-center/resources-for-coaches/tips-for-including-athletes-with-disabilities/

Munyi, C. W. (n.d.). Past and Present Perceptions Towards Disability: A Historical Perspective | Munyi | Disability Studies Quarterly. //Disability Studies Quarterly//. Retrieved December 1, 2013, from http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/3197/3068

Patel, D., & Greydanus, D. (n.d.). Physically Challenged Athletes. //MH Professional//. Retrieved November 25, 2013, from http://www.mhprofessional.com/downloads/products/0071496777/patel-35-chapter-35.pdf

Result Filters. (n.d.). Disability After Injury: The Cumulative Burden of Physical and Mental Health. //National Center for Biotechnology Information//. Retrieved November 28, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23473359


Winsberg, M. (n.d.). The Psychology of the Injured Athlete. //Endurance Corner//. Retrieved November 26, 2013, from http://www.endurancecorner.com/Mimi_Win